Covid 19 pandemic accelerates digitalization of marketplace, Go Shopping Philippines foresees sustained boom in cashless transactions

September 6, 2021

The Covid 19 pandemic is accelerating digitalization of the marketplace, propping up e-commerce sales of Filipino-founded Go Shopping Philippines(GSP)which foresees a sustained boom in cashless transactions.

   Boasting of branding differentiation and protection from online shopping, GSP Mall has easily joined the league in successful online transactions among now famous online companies due to the pandemic Covid 19.

   “The pandemic has drastically hastened the use of online shopping among residents of Metro Manila and nationwide.  People can no longer do the normal transaction on the malls for fear of Covid 19 and the new variant delta,” GSP Chief Executive Officer Neil Garcia La-as in an interview with a broadcast firm.

   “With the  imposition of lockdowns, it’s  inevitable people can’t go out. This paved the way for  online e-commerce to blossom like mushroom. This is an industry that has a great future.”

Neil GArcia La-as, GSP Mall chief executive officer

   With such phenomenal growth the digital mall has been experiencing in one year or so, it will take just a matter time before GSP Mall franchises out to neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

   “Partnering with GEP solutions, a developer based in Singapore, is an advantage for a localized company like ours because they have been 26 years in the business,” La-as said.

   Big brands with the traditional brick and mortar stores can no longer ignore opportunities that have emerged in digital transactions.

   That compels them to put up venues for people to buy their products online.  And GSP Mall comes out as a preferred consumer outlet with the ecosystem it is building that offers solution to every need.

    “As a previous leasing manager of the one of the major mall operators in the Philippines, I have seen drastic change of brick and mortar stores in presentation of their products. There’s no way they can’t be present online as it naturally bccomes a support to sustaining sales momentum,” he said.

   “Visibility is the name of the game.”

   While the pandemic has brought consumers the convenience of shopping while at home, it has also caused proliferation of low quality and fake items available online. 

   But GSP Mall commits to give consumers the digital lifestyle they deserve.  It scrutinizes legitimacy of merchants and the quality of products or service they offer.

   It makes sure products like cosmetics and skin care produts are  FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-registered.

   “We have a self regulatory body to make sure the kind of merchants we choose is the kind of concept we want to offer to Go Shopping community.We started a bit slower because our game plan is not really to massively allow a lot merchants  to be on board for as long as I don’t have enough manpower to scrutinize them all one by one, he said.”

   “We’re very slow, but very consistent. We target 1,000 merchants to be on-boarded  by the end of the year. We have a timeline so we can secure inventory before the ‘ber’ (September to December)  months take off.   We are alluring all of them to be with us these coming months.”

   Go Shopping Philippines has already made a distinction for itself as it is not just a retail e-commerce site. 

   It is an entire community, an ecosystem.

   “We aggregate other apps to exist with us.  We try to synergize with other e commerce platform  like Metrodeal and Tourism Ph, restaurant bookings.  We move beyond what’s currently the status of e commerce platforms.”

   GSP will provide its consumers its own Go TV under which it will produce its our own shows and news and current affairs program.  It will offer its Gflix or online movie offerings.  It will , we have its own Cineplex to  showcase online cinemas on a  pay per view feature.

   To top it all, it will have a foreign exchange venue.

   “It’s a huge ecosystem where anybody can converge and do business with us.”

   GSP is targeting a revenue of P500 million by the fiscal year 2021-2022.  Its revenue comes from percentage of sales from merchants from different product categories.

About GSP Mall

   GSP Mall will be a big virtual mall where practically all one needs can be delivered via what is called Smart Logistics.

   Through an easy access from the GSP app from one’s smartphone, one can have his desired product delivered at his doorstep via GSP’s Smart Logistics.  The logistics systems aggregate third party couriers with warehouse and delivery services.

   GSP’s strategically located warehouses make sure a product from within the country or overseas is tracked and delivered as expected.

   GSP  has an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system that automates business processes including warehousing and logistics.

   Technology will be a tool through which anyone is protected, assuring anyone that his well-earned money is well-returned with the added perks.   It should create full satisfaction from the digital lifestyle. 

   Digital also now operates under Artificial Intelligence advancements.  GSP Mall’s Analytics Program enables GSP and its merchants to systematically sell goods based on data, statistics, and market demographics.

GSP Mall offers Filipino products

   A fraud detection system, on top of firewalls, secures GSP Mall’s transactions. 

   And double protection security systems ensure that when cyber-attacks are attempted against the system, at the worst case scenario, only a portion, not the entire ecosystem, can be affected.  That is given the self-locking capability of the digital mall systems’ various components.

   On top of supermarket products, food and beverage, fruits and vegetables, apparel, fashion accessories, and jewelry, the GSP Mall offers practically everything—appliances, furniture, home furnishings, most department store products.

  The GSP Mall app makes purchasing fast and friendly.  Registration is easy through Facebook or email.

   To keep one protected, a verification system is required to make sure the real person is the one who really makes the transaction.  That is done as a user is asked to take a selfie of himself and also send a copy of his legitimate ID card.

   Medical, dental, and veterinary services, architectural and interior design, carpentry, and upholstery services, sewing and embroidery can all be easily arranged from the mobile phone.

   As GSP promises to give what once can only be imagined, the features of the mega GSP Mall are all-encompassing —  leaving one without anything to ask for even in the middle of pandemic’s lockdowns.   

   These services, though, will be offered one after the other,  one phase at a time.

   The GFlix offers on-demand movie — both local and international films — now possible for viewing via one’s mobile phone. GO LIVE is a livestreaming platform for conferences, trade exhibitions, and events.

GSP Mall, your go-to digital mall for all

   GO CINEPLEX is a 3D virtual cinema that has multiple halls, secured online ticketing system, and high-quality audio and video setup. It is enabling feelings of warmth among people commonly watching theatre shows and live presentations, virtual nevertheless.  Fashion shows and sports activities can now all be viewed at the flick of a finger.

    With the first mega digital mall in the Philippines will be its own GoTV. It will be airing 24/7 to entertain  users any hour of the day, or night.  It will air select television programs accessible anywhere through one’s own mobile phone.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Israeli tech company sees market growth in telecommunications, AODF market post Covid 19 as need for internet connections heightens

September 2, 2021

An Israeli technology provider is seeing market growth in automated optical distribution frames (AODF) as investment in telecommunication soars particularly for advanced technologies useful in floods and natural disasters in the post Covid 19 scenario. 

    As government and private investors bounce back to pouring investments in infrastructure for connectivity that is much needed today and, in the post Covid 19 situation, Israeli Teliswitch sees tremendously bright prospects for its AODF technology.

   Now more than ever, the need for internet connectivity in offices and residences is surging arising from the Work from Home (WFH) mode that has since prevailed due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

   As floods and natural disasters further highlight the Covid 19 condition, Teliswitch sees huge opportunity to provide telecommunication and data center operating companies a resilient AODF technology. 

    AODF is an important support equipment in cable interconnections for the optical transmission system as part of the communication networks critical in long distance trunk lines and network relay transmission.

   “Our new Network Service Recovery solution allows optical network operators to switch automatically to alternate, predefined fiber links in case of fiberoptic cable failure caused by natural disaster or human-made damage,” according to Teliswitch. 

Multi-operator automatic optical switch

   Fiber optic cables are the backbone of network infrastructure today. 

   In case of partial or complete damage to a cable arising from man-made or natural calamities like typhoons typical in a typhoon belt as the Philippines, large parts of the network are disconnected.   

   It may take weeks or even months to renew the service to the damaged areas.

   TeliSwitch’s solution enables quick and automatic connection to alternate or backup cables– employing its Automatic Optical Distribution Frame (AODF) to make the connection on real time.

   Its technology’s advantage is fast– effectively zero- time lag on the part of users — and automatic repair of damages. 

   “There is no time lag in term of user connection because the subscribers will not even notice something went wrong somewhere because the switching from one broken or defective line to another is automatic.” 

   Robotics is making a difference in seamless user connectivity. No human presence is needed at the site. 

   The company’s AODF is a cost-effective, all-optical switch, using a single switching robot and advanced image recognition.

   The AODF is operated remotely and can withstand harsh weather conditions, thus assuring the connection is made even when there is no physical access to the AODF.

    With the new release, users can now use the Elements Management Software (EMS) to monitor and manage complex, end to end interconnection scenarios that can be executed automatically once the system detects fiber link failure.

   “TeliSwitch’s opto-mechatronics design keeps our AODF link connections alive, even during power loss events or system maintenance.  The AODF solution includes an SW-based element manager system for a real-time, holistic view of the fiber optic networks’ physical layer.”

   Part of the effort to prepare for expected climate change damages to the communication networks, optical networks have to be automated at the physical layer, according to TeliSwitch Chief Executive Officer Rafi Benatar. 

   Automatic Feature Recognition (AFR), an essential tool in automating computer systems, should be implemented to provide quick recovery from natural disasters.

    Teliswitch is the leading vendor of Automated Optical Distribution Frames for fiberoptic network connectivity. 

   Its Elements Management Software (EMS) provides remote and central management.

The company’s systems are deployed successfully by telecommunication operators around the world.

   As Covid 19 has intensified the global need for connectivity, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) foresees continuing growth of the telecommunication industry as 49% of the world does not use the internet.

   “The network coverage gap is even larger at 83.9 per cent of the world’s population is not covered by 5G.  A large portion of the rural population remains unserved by broadband networks: 29 per cent of the world’s rural population is not served by 4G networks.”

Digital Around the World. Credit-Datareportal

   The provision of state-of-the-art network and data Solutions are increasingly effected to adeptly build and better manage telecoms and Data Center fiber optic infrastructures in order to attain utmost efficiency while bridging the present gaps in network deployment. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Two rice mills, VCO facility, solar dryer put up in Wahig Inabanga River, Bohol, uplifting livelihood of poorest watershed dwellers

August 31, 2021

At least two rice mills, a virgin coconut oil facility, and a multi-commodity solar dryer have been put up in the Wahig Inabanga River Basin  in Bohol, uplifting the livelihood among Philippines’ poorest upland communities.

   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has put up the rice mills as part of a project protecting the watershed around Wahig Inabanga River. 

   Water Inabanga is the largest and most important river in Region 7 (Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor).  It is recognized as a watershed reservation under Proclamation No. 468. 

Inabanga River, Bohol. Credit-Wikipedia

   It has a huge potential source of water for agricultural, commercial, industrial, and household uses.  The National Irrigation Administration has constructed a dam to provide irrigation to about 5,000 hectares of agricultural land in four valley towns here (Sierra Bullones, Pilar, Dagohoy, and San Miguel).

   The dam also supplies the domestic water needs of 637,097 households.

   The rice mills are now managed by the people’s organization (PO) of DAFA and MVEGEGRO (Matinao Vegetable Growers Association).

   A separate all-weather dryer facility has been put up for the KUFFARD (Kauswagan United Farmers for Forest and Agro-Forest Resources Development)  and the multi-commodity solar tunnel dryer for COMASFARMA (Confraternity of Mayana Small Farmers).

   Since these facilities have been constructed, around 2,700 beneficiaries have enjoyed their production of nearly 450,000 kilos of palay, corn, cassava, and assorted fish.

   The DENR project — Integrated Natural Resource and Environmental Management Program (INREMP) — has also put up a virgin coconut oil facility to enhance the livelihood source of the communities. For the fishing residents, a fish pen coral in the area has been constructed.

Natural Resource Management-Reforestation Inabanga, Bohol

   INREMP has allocated P17.7 million for these livelihood projects totaling to 66 units. These have a total of 52 people’s organization beneficiaries.

   For their water supply, a concrete water reservoir and a water system transformer have been constructed.

   While the upland communities are helping the government in natural resource management (NRM) as they protect the forests and mountains, INREMP provided them with the farm-to-market road (FMR). 

   These FMRs   are desperately needed by the upland communities in order to transport their agricultural goods to the market from the watershed areas.

Farm-to-market road

   Such roads, among around 15 rural infrastructure projects, have been constructed with the help of local government units (LGU) in the towns of Danao, Inabanga, Trinidad, San Miguel, and Talibon, among others.

   INREMP is funded by the Asian Development Bank with a counterpart fund from the Philippine government.

   As the project nears completion, a total of 4,316.67 hectares  of forestland has been been properly put under NRM. 

   This consists of the following:

  • 758 hectares of reforestation with a contract cost of P19.169 million, benefitting 24 POs 
  • 1,439 hectares of agroforestry area, with a contract cost of P43.684 million, benefitting 47 POs; and
  • 1,644 hectares of Assisted Natural Regeneration area with a contract cost of P46.625 million, benefitting 30 POs.
  • There is also a conservation farming area of 331 hectares with a contract cost of P19.8 million and 30 PO beneficiaries. 
  • A total of 134 hectares of commercial tree planting area has been put up, benefitting five POs. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)
Virgin coconut oil facility

Six delegates to represent the Philippines in virtual global Youth Ag Summit, young leaders to pitch for sustainable agriculture project

August 25, 2021

Six youth leaders from the Philippines are joining 100 delegates from more than 44 different countries in Bayer’s 2021 virtual Youth Ag Summit this November.

   The global forum and biennially organized conference selected young leaders between the ages of 18 and 25 with a passion for sustainable global agriculture for the opportunity to learn and collaborate with others on solutions to issues challenging food security.

   This year’s delegates come from more than 2,000 applicants representing nearly 100 countries.

   “This is a very important project of Bayer to really highlight the United Nations Sustainable Goals, particularly that of feeding a hungry planet. It’s also for us to empower the next generation, giving them a forum and chance to meet like-minded peers not just in the Philippines but across the world” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead of Bayer CropScience Philippines.

   To be selected, this year’s delegates presented project ideas and examples of previous advocacy work based on the summit’s overall theme “Feeding a Hungry Planet”.

   The six delegates from the Philippines come from provinces around the country and are students in national and private universities. 

Delegates to the 22 Youth Ag Summit together with Bayer officials

   They are Grand Cayona Gascon (University of the Philippines Visayas), Remigio Mujar Lozano Jr. (University of the Philippines os Banos), Tracey Chua Tedoco (University of St. La Salle), Christian King Lagueras Condez (Ateneo de Manila University), Mark Virgil Casimo Jamer (University of the Philippines Los Banos) and Thoreenz Panes Soldevilla (University of the Philippines Diliman).

   “The Youth Ag Summit has always been a great opportunity for me to connect with the next generation of Ag leaders. These young people provide the passion needed to make a real difference in tackling food security challenges,” said Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division. 

   “By supporting and nurturing these future leaders, we aid them in what we hope is a lifelong journey of learning and action for a more sustainable food system.” 

   This year’s 5th biennial Youth Ag Summit will be the company’s first virtual YAS event and its first with a virtual idea incubator called YAS University.

   Within the YAS University program, delegates will continue to develop their business and communications skills, receive coaching from mentors, and complete weekly assignments that help them hone their own project concepts for 10 weeks following the summit, beginning in January 2022.

   At the end of YAS University, the delegates will have the opportunity to pitch their project ideas to a panel of experts to compete for prizes.

   Bayer’s partnerships for this year’s forum with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the tech company Babele make the unique experience of YAS University possible. Delegates will work with the UN SDSN and Balbele on a 10-week Youth Ag Summit (YAS) University program following the forum with mentoring from industry leaders, farmers, and YAS alumni.

   For more on the Youth Ag Summit 2021 and see a full list of selected delegates, please visit www.youthagsummit.com and follow #AgvocatesWithoutBorders on Twitter and Youth Ag Summit (@youthagsummit) on the YAS Instagram channel.  End

About the Youth Ag Summit

The Youth Ag Summit movement is a community of global young leaders championing sustainable agriculture and food security and working to bridge the understanding gap between those who produce our food and those who consume it. Every two years, 100 delegates are chosen to take part in the Summit. Previous editions have been hosted in Canada, Australia, Belgium and Brazil. Due to COVID restrictions, this year’s summit is the first completely virtual event.

About the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was set up in 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. For more information, visit www.unsdsn.org

48-household bamboo community in Occidental Mindoro registers intellectual property right for distinct bamboo crafts

August 18, 2021

A bamboo community in Occidental Mindoro has filed with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for intellectual property right  (IPR) over their distinct bamboo crafts that have raised their income opportunities.

   The IPR is expected to  protect the business interest of the Ansiray Tree Planters Development Assn Inc. (ATPDAI) as they developed their own products and designs.

   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) implemented the “Handicraft Industry for Sustainable Community Development and Environmental Protection” in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

   As the DENR project helped maximize their production of bamboo, ATPDAI was able to produce 31 types of bamboo products. 

    These are four  types of lampshades, two types of wine holders, two types of centerpiece table, placemats, hamper, mobile speaker, tower racks, curtains, pitcher, cup, necklace, earrings, bracelet, key chains, ballpen holder, and tray.

   There are also two types of baskets, accessory organizer, Chinese design bamboo sala set, bilao, television rack, modern crib, modern style sala set, mugs, and pitcher.

   The government is promoting the use of bamboo as a substitute to wood as it is as durable as any wood, and it contributes to reforestation.

Ansiray community files for intellectual propetry right (IPR) over their own designs of bamboo crafts

   The Ilin island in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro  has abundant natural stands of bamboo. Ansiray, one of the island’s barangays, has been known for its bamboo furniture-making community.

   More than 30 households have furniture making skills.  Eighteen households are engaged in bamboo production.

   DENR’s project, costing P868,000, included capacity building,enterprise development and marketing, operations management, and project management.

   The project generated a product trademark and label that qualify for IPR and a business plan for the bamboo enterprise operations.

   The local government unit (LGU) of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro provided an area in San Jose población to be used by ATPDAI as display area to showcase their bamboo products.

   The San Jose LGU has also been planning to establish a bamboo eco-park in Ilin island.  It has been committing to engage in a project on diversification of the use of bamboo.

  Another collaborator, the Divine Word College of San Jose-Occidental Mindoro, is extending training for the community’s financial and technical literacy.

  DENR’s attached agency, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), is training the Ilin islanders on bamboo propagation and best practices in bamboo farming.

   Bamboo has huge benefits to the environment – one major function is fighting soil erosion, along with carbon sequestration.

   Bamboo can be used for  posts, roofs, walls, floors, beams, trusses and fences.   It is also a raw material for mats, baskets, tools, handles, hats, toys, musical instruments and furniture. Bamboo shoots are  considered a delicacy in some communities.

   Most bamboo species are fast-growing. But its use has not been increasing in the same pace.   

Lack of investment, weak institutional framework, and limited skilled people in the bamboo craft are among the reasons blamed for the slow growth of the bamboo industry.

   The absence of reliable raw material source also discourages investments in bamboo processing.

   Barangay Ansiray has a total of 224 households with an average of 8 members per household with a usual income per capita of P 3,000 per month. With the DENR project, the households have been observed to have raised their income.

   Almost 60-70% of Barangay Ansiray’s agricultural area are planted with bamboo.

   DENR is promoting sustainable kind of forest management in  Occidental Mindoro  as the forests are heavily threatened with illegal human activities such as charcoal making and kaingin.  These result in degradation of soil and forest destruction.

   ATPDAI  has a tenure over 382.15 hectares of forestland under DENR’s Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA).  They have 152 hectares of bamboo plantation that are now under the management of the National Greening Program.

   DENR’s city environment and natural resources office (CENRO) in San Jose has conceived the bamboo project as the community’s income from beds and sala set, their traditional products, are not enough to sustain their livelihood.

   DENR is asking assistance from other government agencies in maximizing business opportunities of ATPDAI.  Department of Science and Technology (DOST) can lend assistance in machineries and product design. 

   Bamboo is a very versatile construction material that some experts have developed “engineered, laminated bamboo.” It is beautiful design of wood finishing for flooring and walling that can command a high price in the market.  


Beautiful Filipino engineered bamboo for finishing for flooring or walling.  Credit-DOST

   Infrastructure should also be improved in Ansiray as their production area is in an island.  As such, they need a boat for the efficient transportation of their products.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

World’s first coconut cider soap developed for fair skin, anti psoriatic cure, facial cleanser by a Filipino advocate of the ‘natural’

August 16, 2021

 A Philippine kind of the ancient beauty secret apple cider—the coco cider soap — has been developed by a Filipino advocate of natural ingredients, now ensnaring many Filipino hearts who believe in the “natural.”

   A Filipino born and raised here but who has honed his professional skills internationally, Neil Garcia La-as, announced Filipino brand Bakku2Basik (literally Back to Basic) has released the world’s first multi-beneficial “coco cider soap.”

   Much as how apple cider is considered an ancient secret and cure to many ills, coco cider soap is a secret to beautiful skin and consequently treats psoriasis, a difficult dry itchy skin condition. 

   As coconut is known globally as antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral, Bakku2basik’s coco cider soap takes advantage of these qualities. It is made from the sap of the coconut tree’s flowers and is fermented for 8-12 months.  As it naturally turns into vinegar, it becomes a source of important nutrients and minerals.

   It is even formulated with detoxifier activated bamboo charcoal, giving it a dark color that assures cleansing ability.

Neil Garcia La-as, founder and chief executive officer of Bakku2Basik

   “What makes this product different? We asked, “Why do people have many different skin issues? That’s when we thought maybe people have forgotten how to go back to the basic,” said La-as, Bakku2Basik chief executive officer.

   Since it was launched in early 2019, primarily via online direct selling (https://www.facebook.com/Bakku2Basik/), the coco cider soap has been warmly received by many Filipinos who are reminded of the wonder native product coconut that they have long known since they were kids.

   “Coconut is a tree of life.  But this is not just coco cider.  It is infused with activated bamboo charcoal that effectively cleanses  the body.  It makes the skin lighter, closes pores, and saves the skin from pimple attacks.  Coco cider soap also makes many of our psoriatic patients very happy. It alleviates their auto immune symptoms,” said La-as.

   While still in its infancy stage as a product, coco cider soap has started to gain a solid market globally from overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

   “Our international expansion has been inevitable.  Once Filipinos discover it, anywhere they are, they welcome it. There is a Filipino who will soon distribute it to Las Vegas and California”. 

   After eight months from launch, Bakku2basik’s coco cider soap has immediately established a distribution network all over the Philippines—Iloilo, Cotabato, and Zamboanga.

   With its antibacterial property, the soap enables one to stay fresh-smelling even without using a deodorant. This way, anybody can save!

Coco cider soap is made from the sap of coconut tree’s flower and is fermented for 8-12 months

   La-as said OFWs in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, Dubai and East Asia – Singapore, Malaysia—have started shipping the product abroad as a “Filipino natural brand.”

   Laas said he cannot be as proud of any other soap product as that of the local coconut. 

   After having established a good professional exposure as real estate agent at different levels for huge properties in the Middle East, the United States and Europe, La-as went back to the Philippines.

   He worked as a leasing manager for Philippines’ biggest department store — SM. 

   After some time as leasing manager screening through many different products, he started to dream visions of putting up his own company, particularly that having to do with skin care.

   “Many people want to have a fair skin.  But the product has to go through R and D (research and development) and through a battery of tests to make sure it’s effective and efficient,” he said.  “It has to go through stability tests.”

   Bakku2basik needed to make the coco cider soap go through nearly 10 battery tests.

   “When we started launching it, I was pretty sure it will soar high because everybody wants to have a fair skin.  This is a first in the world.  It’s a milestone,” he said.

   The word Bakku2basik was really inspired by the Japanese’s culture of loving their own.

   “I admire Japanese people for always having this unique personality of holding on to their unique culture.  They do not to forget to go back to the basic, to the  natural organic material,” he said.

   La-as said his success in the skin care business, while not having had previous experience in this industry, is a proof anyone can dream for as long as he has the persistence to pursue it.

   “As you journey in your life, you realize that your own skills, talent, expertise, and experience can  be your own capitalization. So I got out of my comfort zone. I decided to focus on a Filipino brand.”

   Coco cider soap is Bakku2basik’s flagship product.  But it has also developed other highly successful products that tap the Philippines’ rich natural ingredients.  One is the malunggay leaf gluta soap.  Bakku2basik now also has its own facial cleanser, lotion, and cosmetic products.

   “I wanted to help the local economy.  Ours is an  effective product.  But it will be lot more beneficial if all we Filipinos focus on consuming our own product. Coconut is under-rated.  It is time for us to patronize our own.  Coco cider soap is now in the market.  If you haven’t tried it yet, why not?   Buy your own product.  Love your country.  Love your product.”

   Bakku2basik has capitalized on coconut’s uniquely known properties (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral.)

   “If you have to introduce something new in market, you have to look at the formulation.  Or you will be introducing a new ingredient that is not well known.  Then everybody will ask you ‘What’s that?  I’m not familiar with that.’ They’re not confident,” said La-as.

   “But our coconut is unique in its own.  People immediately love the product.”
   Nevertheless, La-as admitted his business venture was not always instantly a success.  It had its own pains.  But he used all these challenges to further succeed.

Coco cider soap

   “Whatever I had invested in the past in terms of experience, in terms of failure, I always believed that what happened in the past brings learning.  My recipe is simple.  What is it that you want?  What is your passion?  Once you know it, get out of your comfort zone.  A lot of people have P1 million in their bank account.  But whether you succeed depends on how use you use it.”

   “My journey has been a painful process  But I love every bit of it. Every negative thing said about me,  about my product, about my vision, I savor it.   I’m allured to go forward.  The more people discourage you, the more you should go on.”  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

First-of-its-kind Golden Rice to save 190 million children from risks of Vitamin A deficiency, respiratory diseases, diarrhea, measles, night blindness

August 15, 2021

The recent government approval for the commercial cultivation of Golden Rice (GR) is a most welcome, long-awaited development for the science community, according to National Scientist Emil Q. Javier and Institute of Plant Breeding founder.

   GR is a new unique variety of rice specially bred that contains beta carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, an essential nutrient which humans cannot synthesize on their own, and therefore cannot live without.

   This rice variety is first of its kind in the scientific world because the genes for beta carotene bred into Golden Rice were obtained by genetic engineering.  The beta carotene genes come from a genetically distant edible relative, yellow corn.

   “We had been long waiting for Golden Rice’s regulatory clearance,” according to Dr. Nina Gloriani, former dean of the College of Public Health, UP Manila.

    The permit to cultivate Golden Rice was finally granted by the Bureau of Plant Industry after the proponent, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), complied with the lengthy, rigorous food safety and environment regulatory requirements.

   This rigorous regulation was prescribed by the Joint Department Circular issued by Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),Department of Health (DOH),  and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

   Lack of vitamin A predisposes people, especially children, to increased risk to respiratory diseases, diarrhea, measles, night blindness, and can lead to death. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) continues to be a major nutrition and public health concern in low- and middle-income countries, including the Philippines.

   It affects some 190 million children under five years of age worldwide.

   Further, Dr. Gloriani called out that the Philippines had been remarkably successful in combating VAD in recent years.

   Between 2003 and 2008, we have brought down VAD prevalence among children from 40% down to 17% (DOST-FNRI, 2021). However, among the poorest fifth of Filipino children, VAD prevalence remains unacceptably high at 26%.

   Moreover, these deficiency numbers have not changed between 2008 and 2018. And therefore, a lot remains yet to be done.

   According to the 2019 national nutrition survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI-DOST), only two out of 10 Filipino households meet the estimated average equivalent for Vitamin A. 

   Partial relief could be provided by Golden Rice.

   Laboratory and human feeding trials suggest that one cup of cooked Golden Rice can provide 30–42% of Vitamin A estimated average equivalent for pre-school children.

   Since the beta carotene is naturally embedded in the GR grain, the needed essential nutrient comes at no additional cost and effort to the consumer, a significant benefit to poor households.

   Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco, Jr., chairman of the Agriculture Sciences Division of the National Academy of Science and Technology, said the development of Golden Rice took very long (over 20 years) because the beta carotene genes from yellow corn had to be meticulously transferred into popular rice varieties acceptable to farmers.

   Otherwise, the farmers will not plant them.   The new Golden Rice varieties must have high yield, resistant to pests and diseases, suited to a wide range of growing conditions and with superior eating quality.

The conversion of regular rice varieties into Golden Rice involved conventional plant breeding methods spanning over many crop generations and years.

   Unlike the regular white well-milled rice, the grains of Golden Rice are translucent golden yellow in color.

   When cooked, Golden Rice looks very much like the saffron-colored rice in the Spanish paella, a dish many Filipino chefs have adopted as very much part of the Filipino cuisine.

   Initially, according to rice specialist, Dr. Reynante Ordonio, PhilRice will promote cultivation of Golden Rice versions of two registered varieties — PSBRc 82 and NSICRc 283.

   As the Golden Rice beta carotene genes are regularly incorporated in national rice breeding programs, more Golden Rice  inbreds and hybrids are expected to be released in the future not only in the Philippines but also in  parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America where VAD is rife and where rice is the major staple.

    Finally, National Scientist Javier clarified that all along Golden Rice had been intended by its inventors as an additional option.  It should not be a substitute for existing VAD-elimination programs.  But it should be a complement to diet diversification, breast feeding, vitamin A supplementation and artificial food fortification of flours, cooking oil, sugar, dairy and other products.

   With Golden Rice, a naturally bio-fortified no-additional-cost option now available to consumers, a multipronged long-term sustainable solution to the scourge of vitamin a deficiency in many parts of the developing world is in sight.

DENR implements healthcare waste management as medical waste pours at 280 tons per day since Covid 19 outbreak

August 14, 2021

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be implementing a healthcare waste management project in light of the huge waste problem brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic that can cause detrimental effects to human health.

   It may not have been earlier predicted, but medical waste brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic is now estimated to be accumulating by 280 metric tons (MT) per day.

   This has prompted DENR to cooperate with international agencies including governments from developing countries Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Nepal.

   The project will be financed by China’s  South South Cooperation Fund,   Floradema C. Eleazar., United Nations Development Program team leader said in a launch of the project Friday (August 13).

   China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) is co-funding the project.

   Eleazar said two waste treatment facilities will be put up in the Philippines.

   One treatment facility will be put up in cooperation with the Pasig local government unit (LGU) where several hospitals (Pasig City General Hospital, Rizal Medical Center) are run by the government.

Covid 19 waste management  Credit-  SPREP

   Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said during the project’s launch that the waste management project will bring about expertise in medical waste management in Pasig.

   “The problem has reached critical level.  The city government  does not have a capacity to deal with this infectious waste (that has been piling up) in the past few months. It is an urgent concern that seeks to be addressed,” Sotto said.

   “We look forward to the exchange of information, transfer of technology, technical support, , and training of people.  We look forward to the use autoclave shredder to process and treat up to 50 kilo per hour of waste.”

   Samuel C. Sumilang, chief nurse of Dr. Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium in Tala, Caloocan City, also expressed gratitude for having been chosen as pilot site for the project.

   The waste management project will emulate the success experienced by China in its response to the Covid 19 medical waste problem.

   A UNIDO publication indicated that Infectious waste refers to medical waste that “carries pathogenic microorganisms and has the hazard of leading to the spread of infectious diseases.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto

   Infectious waste mainly includes articles contaminated by patients’ blood, body fluid or excrement; and household garbage generated by isolated infectious patients or suspected infectious patients treated by medical institutions.”

   There are other types of medical waste health authorities are concerned of which are the following

1.      Drug waste

2.      Injury waste refers to discarded sharp medical instruments that could stab or cut human body. Injury waste mainly includes: medical needles, suture needles, scalpels, surgical knives, skin preparation knives, surgical saws, glass slides, glass test tubes, and glass ampoules.

3.      Chemical waste refers to waste chemical articles that are toxic, corrosive, flammable and explosive. Chemical waste mainly includes: discarded chemical reagents from medical imaging department, pathology department and laboratories, discarded chemical disinfectants such as peroxyacetic acid and glutaraldehyde, as well as discarded medical instruments and articles containing heavy metals such as mercury sphygmomanometer and mercury thermometer.

4.      Pathogen culture medium and specimens, preservation solution of strains and virus seed discarded by pathogenic microorganism laboratories, as well as various discarded medical specimens; discarded blood and serum; used disposable medical supplies and disposable medical devices. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR partners with KGV, Forest Foundation, Holcim, planted more than 300 hectares of coffee, abaca, bamboo, ratttan in Mt. Kitanglad

August 9, 2021

The government has successfully partnered with Kitanglad Guard Volunteers (KGV) , Forest Foundation Philippines, and Holcim Corp, to plant more than 300 hectares of coffee, abaca, and bamboo as a sustainable agroforestry system to protect Bukidnon’s Mt. Kitanglad.

   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has proven that volunteerism and partnership with the private sector and non-government organizations (NGOs) work in long term aims to protect the environment.

   “Despite the limited manpower assigned in Mt. Kitanglad, the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) has successfully tapped the cooperation of the upland communities to spearhead the community- based park protection,” said Daniel F. Somera, protected area superintendent of MKRNP.

   More than 400 volunteers that form KGV now serve as contractors of the DENR’s National Greening Program.

   “KGV started its humble beginning with only more than a dozen members in 1995. They rose to more than 400 volunteers who proved their worth in the significant decline of man-made disturbances within the park. Their park protection is also being reciprocated as they are given top priority in the provision of livelihood assistance,” said Somera.

   A combination of agroforestry (planting of fruit trees, dipterocarp or broad-leafed tropical trees, and vegetables) and assisted natural regeneration (ANR–maintenance of existing naturally growing trees) has been implemented by DENR in MKRNP. 

   This resulted in the sustainable development of forestry area with 100 hectares of coffee trees, 100 hectares of abaca, 100 hectares of fuelwood trees, 100 hectares of rattan, and 50 hectares of bamboo.

Different moods of Mt, Kitanglad

   The planting is all over 28 barangays surrounding MKRNP. DENR has also partnered with Holcim Corp in planting coffee, cacao, and rubber.  The Forest Foundation Philippines and the – Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program also contributed to the plantation efforts.

   Somera said the agroforestry-ANR program supports DENR’s aim for the sustainable protection of MKRNP which is the headwater source of major river systems in Bukidnon.

   Mt. Kitanglad plays a critical role in  the the replenishment of  river systems that drain from Mt. Kitanglad. The rivers include Pulangi, Manupali, Cagayan and Tagoloan rivers in North and Central Mindanao.

   The DENR has also implemented a separate project, the Integrated  Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) that aims to protect the Upper Bukidnon River Basin.

   INREMP eyes ecotourism as  an approach to the long term sustainable development of MKRNP and UBRB.

   Mt. Kitanglad is  a favorite trekking site due to its magnificent scenery and terrific landscape.

   Improvements made so far to enhance Mt. Kitanglad’s ecotourism potential include a canopy walk, hanging bridge, improvement of biking/camping trails, and repair and renovation of existing buildings to cater to hikers’ and tourists’ needs.

   Hikers go for  sight of  rich biodiversity in Mt. Kitanglad.  

Rafflesia, world’s biggest bloom

   “Within the reserve is a nesting site of the Philippine eagle which is probably the nearest eagle site in terms of proximity,” said Somera.  “Within the park’s bufferzone is Cinchona Forest Reserve (CFR) located in Kaatuan, Lantapan, Bukidnon. It was once a trial planting site of Quinine (covering 1,900 hectares) which is a known plant to cure malaria.”

   Mountain climbers choose to reach the three highest peaks of the park– Mts. Kitanglad, Dulangdulang and Maagnao.

   Mt. Dulangdulang, with an elevation of 2,938 meters, is the second highest mountain next to Mt. Apo.

   To ensure their safety, hikers are oriented on basic park rules by DENR’s Protected Area Management Office (PAMO). They also go through a ritual performed by a tribal leader to ask spirits for a safe travel.

   “These hikers are regularly being escorted by trained local guides serving as their tour guides and porters.”

   Tourists also delight in visiting buildings occupied by Japanese garrison during the World War II.  It was later recovered by Filipino and American soldiers.  

   “This area is being promoted as one ecotourism destination given its rich historical value, presence of century old natural forests, series of waterfalls, rafflesia flower and rare and endemic flora and fauna.”

   Somera said another booming activity within the park is ethno and agro ecotourism. This ethno-tourism appreciates the rich culture of the  indigenous peoples (Talaandig, Higaonon and Bukidnon tribes) who dwell within the park.    

   There is also a popular, national awardee demonstration farm covering 22 hectares run by a family that showcase diversified upland farming system.

   “With their amenities established at site, the farm is also regularly visited by farmers who wish to emulate their success stories and nature lovers who wish to commune with nature,” Somera said.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Land use plan mapped for Mt. Mantalingahan in Palawan for its protection and the development of its $5.5 billion economic resources

August 5, 2021

A Land Use Plan (LUP) has been mapped for the protected Mt. Mantalingahan in Palawan to ensure its preservation and the optimum development of its resources economically valued at $5.5 billion.

   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported that 206,567 hectares of Mt. Mantalingahan’s protected landscape had already been zoned.

    This is under DENR’s technical assistance program called “Protect Wildlife Project” funded by the United States Agency for International Development ((USAID). 

   The zoned area also includes forest land outside the protected area of 153,836 hectares.

  Mapping of Mt Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) is a powerful tool in defining which activities are appropriate for each zone.  It prescribes what is allowed in each area.

   With its 120,457 hectares of forest, Mt. Matalingahan is the headwater for 33 watersheds.

Nearly 300 upland farmers now practise sustainable agriculture  in Mt. Mantalingahan while protecting the  forests and producing agricultural commodities and forest products

   It is  important to preserve the habitat of many important species of animals in Mt. Matalingahan–the Philippine cockatoo, the talking mynah, the blue-naped parrot, and the Philippine pangolin, and many other highly endangered wildlife.

   Production area totaling to 82,469 hectares of protected area and 71,367 hectares of conservation area have also been designated under the FLUP (Forest Land Use Plan) of Southern Palawan.

   Ecosystem services from MMPL’s rich natural resources bring about economic benefit to the community whose value is placed at $5.5 billion or P265 billion, according to Jeanne G. Tabangay, managing director of Palawan Biodiversity Conservation Corridor. 

   “:This was based on a 2008 study conducted by Conservation International.  The study was conducted as there were claims that the mining resources in Palawan bring huge economic value.  But this study showed the natural resources themselves have value for ecosystem services,”  said Tabangay,

   The Protect Wildlife Project of USAID targets to conserve around 750,000 hectares of biologically significant sites.  These are protected areas, forestlands, watersheds, mangrove forests, and coastal and marine areas.

   The biggest ecosystem services in MMPL, based on the Conservation International study, include indigenous people (IP) land-based livelihood, P2 billion; water resources, P83 billion; and ecotourism, P84 billion.

Philippine pangolin. Credit Palawan News

   Marine biodiversity’s indirect use was valued at P13 billion and carbon, P34 billion. Ecosystem services of tropical forests was valued at P108 billion and recreation, P6 billion.

   The Water Wildlife Project project leveraged P368 million of commitments from private and public sector partners to fund conservation activities including support for sustainable livelihood, and social enterprises.

   Mt. Matalingahan is the highest peak in Palawan. It straddles around the towns of Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Rizal, Quezon, and Sofronio Espanola.

   It plays an important role as a deterrent to flashfloods  and other destructive forces. 

   However, even Mt. Matalingahan faces natural and man-made threats from illegal logging, wildlife poaching, mining, and kaingin (slash and burn).

   It also faces risks of high poverty incidence; unclear or inconsistent regulatory policies on resource uses; communities that lack tenure rights; weak enforcement systems; and the vulnerability to climate risks such as drought and intense rainfall, according to the USAID.

   The Protect Wildlife Project aligned the Land Use Plan with prevailing policies.

   “Protect Wildlife found that there were several areas where actual land uses differed from what policies prescribed..  This has caused much of the degradation within the protected area and adjoining forest lands, said USAID.

   The LUP is now compliant to the policies on Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN) strategy for Palawan, National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Act, Forestry Code, the Local Government Code, and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

   Land use included forest lands which are designated into protection, conservation, and production areas.  Production areas are further divided into sub-zones such as agriculture, tourism, and special areas.

  “Each zone and sub-zone has corresponding evidence-based land and resource use prescriptions—the rules for how an area of land may be legally used. Zoning decisions are derived from spatial analysis but also consider socioeconomic and political realities,” reported USAID.

   “Land use zoning provides a solid basis for LGUs (local government units) and the DENR to make informed decisions for investments on natural assets enhancement, restoration, basic infrastructure, social services and enterprises.” 

Mt. Mantalingahan, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.  Credit–  Incredible Palawan

   DENR said the project  has partners for livelihood programs.  These are Lutheran World Relief, Abraham Holdings, Inc., and Sunlight Foods Corporation.  They are supporting establishment of enterprises in five LGUs in the MMPL. 

   Also participating now in an ube (purple yam) production are upland communities in tenured areas in Bataraza, Brooke’s Point and Sofronio Española.

   Fourteen communities with a total of 1,500 households are into conservation agriculture and agroforestry.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)